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Mark Waldron and Aron Murphy

This study aimed to identify characteristics of match performance and physical ability that discriminate between elite and subelite under-14 soccer players. Players were assessed for closed performance and movement, physiological responses, and technical actions during matches. Elite players covered more total m·min−1 (115.7 ± 6.6 cf. 105.4 ± 7.7 m·min−1) and high-intensity m·min−1 (elite = 14.5 ± 2.3 cf. 11.5 ± 3.7 m·min−1) compared with subelite players. Elite players also attempted more successful (0.41 ± 0.11 cf. 0.18 ± 0.02) and unsuccessful ball retentions·min−1 (0.14 ± 0.04 cf. 0.06 ± 0.02) compared with subelite players. Elite players were faster over 10 m (1.9 ± 0.1 cf. 2.3 ± 0.2 s) and faster dribblers (16.4 ± 1.4 cf. 18.2 ± 1.1 s) compared with subelite players. Speed (10 m) and successful ball retention·min−1 contributed to a predictive model, explaining 96.8% of the between-group variance. The analysis of match performance provides a more thorough understanding of the factors underlying talent among youth soccer players.

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Mark Watsford and Aron Murphy

This research examined the effects of respiratory-muscle (RM) training on RM function and exercise performance in older women. Twenty-six women (60–69 yr of age) were assessed for spirometry, RM strength (maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressure), inspiratory-muscle endurance, and walking performance to a perceived exertion rating of “hard.” They were randomly allocated to a threshold RM training group (RMT) or a nonexercising control group (CON) for 8 wk. After training, the 22% (inspiratory) and 30% (expiratory) improvements in RM strength in the RMT group were significantly higher than in the CON group (p < .05). The RMT group also displayed several significant performance improvements, including improved within-group treadmill performance time (12%) and reductions in submaximal heart rate (5%), percentage of maximum voluntary ventilation (16%), and perceived exertion for breathing (8%). RM training appears to improve RM function in older women. Furthermore, these improvements appear to be related to improved submaximal exercise performance.

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Sven Rees, Aron Murphy and Mark Watsford

This study was designed to investigate the effects of vibration on muscle performance and mobility in a healthy, untrained, older population. Forty-three participants (23 men, 20 women, 66–85 y old) performed tests of sit-to-stand (STS), 5- and 10-m fast walk, timed up-and-go test, stair mobility, and strength. Participants were randomly assigned to a vibration group, an exercise-without-vibration group, or a control group. Training consisted of 3 sessions/wk for 2 mo. After training, the vibration and exercise groups showed improved STS (12.4%, 10.2%), 5-m fast walk (3.0%, 3.7%), and knee-extension strength (8.1%, 7.2%) compared with the control (p < 0.05). Even though vibration training improved lower limb strength, it did not appear to have a facilitatory effect on functional-performance tasks compared with the exercise-without-vibration group. Comparable mobility and performance changes between the experimental groups suggest that improvements are linked with greater knee-extension strength and largely attributed to the unloaded squats performed by both exercise groups.

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Ecosse L. Lamoureux, Aron Murphy, Anthony Sparrow and Robert U. Newton

This study examined the effects of improved strength on an obstacle course (OC) simulating gait tasks commonly encountered by community-living older adults. Forty-five adults (mean age 68.2 ± 1.5 years) were randomly assigned to a control (10 women, 5 men) or an experimental group (EXP; 19 women, 10 men) and trained 3 days/week for 12 weeks. Using a 1-repetition-maximum (1-RM) method, 6 leg-strength measures were evaluated pre- and posttest. The times to walk an OC of 4 gait tasks (stepping over and across an obstacle, negotiating a raised surface, and foot targeting) set at 3 progressively challenging levels were also assessed. Significant Group × Time interactions were found on all 1-RM tests, with only EXP recording significant improvements (124–147%; p < .001). Strength gains in EXP were accompanied by significant improvements in the times to negotiate all gait stations and walk the entire OC (6-15%; p = .001–.014). This study showed that improving strength is an effective strategy to improve community locomotion, which might decrease the risks of falls in community-living older adults.

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Ken A. McLachlan, Aron J. Murphy, Mark L. Watsford and Sven Rees

Two popular methods of assessing lower body musculotendinous stiffness include the hopping and oscillation tests. The disparity and paucity of reliability data prompted this investigation into leg musculotendinous stiffness (Kleg) and ankle musculotendinous stiffness (Kank) measures. Kleg and Kank were assessed on three separate occasions in 20 female subjects. Kleg was determined using bilateral hopping procedures conducted at 2.2 Hz and 3.2 Hz frequencies. Kank was assessed by perturbation of the subject's ankle musculotendinous unit on an instrumented calf raise apparatus at 70% of maximum isometric force (MIF). Excellent reliability was produced for all Kleg measures between all days, whereas Kank exhibited acceptable reliability after one session of familiarization. No relationship was evident between Kleg and Kank. It was concluded that no familiarization session was required for Kleg at the test frequencies and conditions tested, whereas at least one familiarization session was needed to ensure the reliable assessment of Kank.

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Mark L. Watsford, Aron J. Murphy, Matthew J. Pine and Aaron J. Coutts

Older adults’ participation in habitual exercise might be affected by alterations to respiratory mechanics such as decreased respiratory-muscle strength. This reduction can cause a decrease in efficiency of the ventilatory pump, potentially compromising exercise participation. This research examined the role of habitual exercise in respiratory-muscle function and the associated implications for exercise performance. Seventy-two healthy older adults (36 men, 64.9 ± 8.6 years, 177.2 ± 8.4 cm, 82.5 ± 11.9 kg; 36 women, 64.9 ± 9.5 years, 161.7 ± 6.4 cm, 61.6 ± 9.2 kg) undertook respiratory-function and walking-performance tests. Active men and women achieved higher scores than their inactive counterparts for all tests except spirometry, where no differences were evident. The results indicate that a significant amount of the elevated fitness level might be accounted for by increased endurance capacity of the inspiratory muscles. Inactive older individuals might be at risk for inadequate respiratory-muscle strength, so interventions should be considered.

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Stephen J. Kelly, Aron J. Murphy, Mark L. Watsford, Damien Austin and Michael Rennie

Purpose:

To investigate the validity and reliability of accelerometry of the SPI-ProX II dual data logger (GPSports, Canberra, Australia).

Methods:

Controlled laboratory assessments determined the accuracy and reproducibility of raw accelerometer data. Intra- and interdevice reliability assessed the ability of the SPI-ProX II accelerometers to repeatedly measure peak gravitational accelerations (g) during impact-based testing. Static and dynamic validity testing assessed the accuracy of SPI-ProX II accelerometers against a criterion-referenced accelerometer. Dynamic validity was assessed over a range of frequencies from 5 to 15 Hz.

Results:

Intradevice reliability found no differences (P < .05) between 4 SPI-ProX II accelerometers, with a low coefficient of variation (1.87–2.21%). SPI-ProX II accelerometers demonstrated small to medium effect-size (ES) differences (0.10–0.44) between groups and excellent interdevice reliability, with no difference found between units (F = 0.826, P = .484). Validity testing revealed significant differences between devices (P = .001), with high percentage differences (27.5–30.5%) and a large ES (>3.44).

Conclusions:

SPI-ProX II accelerometers demonstrated excellent intra- and interaccelerometer reliability. However, static and dynamic validity were poor, and caution is recommended when measuring the absolute magnitude of acceleration, particularly for high-frequency movements. Regular assessment of individual devices is advised, particularly for mechanical damage and signal-drift errors. It is recommended that guidelines be provided by the manufacturer on measuring shifts in the base accelerometer signal, including time frames for assessing accelerometer axis, magnitude of errors, and calibration of accelerometers from a stable reference point.

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Aron J. Murphy, Greg J. Wilson, John F. Pryor and Robert U. Newton

The purpose of this investigation was to determine the relationship between isometric measures of muscular function at two different joint angles and dynamic performance. Thirteen experienced weight trainers performed two isometric tests in a bench press position, at elbow angles of 90 and 120°. Performance was assessed by a one repetition maximum (1-RM) bench press and a series of upper body bench press throws at loads of 15, 30, and 60% of the 1-RM load. The results clearly show that changing the joint angle from 120 to 90° improved the relationship between most of the tests and performance by more than 100%, possibly due to differences in motor unit recruitment patterns and differing muscle mechanics (e.g., length-tension), at varying joint angles. It was suggested that the best angle at which to assess isometric function may be the joint angle at which peak force is developed in the performance of interest.

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Robert U. Newton, William J. Kraemer, Keijo Häkkinen, Brendan J. Humphries and Aron J. Murphy

The aim of this study was to investigate the kinematics, kinetics, and neural activation of the traditional bench press movement performed explosively and the explosive bench throw in which the barbell was projected from the hands. Seventeen male subjects completed three trials with a bar weight of 45% of the subject's previously determined 1RM. Performance was significantly higher during the throw movement compared to the press for average velocity, peak velocity, average force, average power, and peak power. Average muscle activity during the concentric phase for pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, triceps brachii, and biceps brachii was higher for the throw condition. It was concluded that performing traditional press movements rapidly with light loads does not create ideal loading conditions for the neuromuscular system with regard to explosive strength production, especially in the final stages of the movement, because ballistic weight loading conditions where the resistance was accelerated throughout the movement resulted in a greater velocity of movement, force output, and EMG activity.